It has been widely (and blindly) accepted that the Real IRA (RIRA) carried out the Massereene killings of two British soldiers last Saturday, on the basis of a phoned claim of responsibility. But is it that simple?
It now turns out that there were two claims of responsibility for the Massereene attack, one from the RIRA and one from a little known (up to now) group calling itself Óglaigh na hÉireann.
Irish News: NEWS: Two groups claim responsibility
A few weeks previously this group (Óglaigh na hÉireann) was responsible for a large car bomb (136 kg) abandoned on the outskirts of Castlewellan, Co. Down. Its planned destination had been Ballykinler army base. It was said to be of such sophistication that it 'spooked' British army technical officers and contained previously unseen anti-handling devices (boobytraps) to prevent its disarming. It was, we are told, a step change in sophistication from anything seen thus far from either the RIRA or the CIRA and it was speculated that an old Provo bomb-maker was back in business.
This group was previously discussed on this site here:
Is it the sudden emergence of this group that has caused Hugh Order this week to call publicly for special undercover forces to be brought back to the six counties? A spokesman for this new group was quoted as saying that it is made up of some former Provos (and ex-RIRA members) and aimed to carry out attacks solely on British military personnel (if memory serves).
Does this group have any connection with the sudden emergence (last few weeks) of graffiti and posters for a new political grouping called the 'Republican Network for Unity' (a coming together or anti-GFA republicans from the 32 CSM, IRSP, ex-Provos)? Posters for this group, put up in republican areas, state that they oppose British imperialist wars in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. We now know that the soldiers in Massereene were on the point of deploying to Afghanistan? A coincidence?
It is curious that this group, their claim for the sophisticated Ballykinlar bomb, etc., has largely been ignored by the media. A deliberate media blackout? The fact that another army base was targeted, i.e., first Ballykinlar, now Massereene, would point to their involvement, if only because the RIRA has not looked like possessing the capability of carrying out an operation such as this (cool, clinical, deadly) up to know. This attack on the British army would also tally with the aim of Óglaigh na hÉireann to only target soldiers, as up to now the RIRA and CIRA have only targetted PSNI officers (a softer target). It is widely accepted that the RIRA is tout-ridden, for example and it may be that the RIRA is now being used as a convenient catch-all for claims of responsibility on the part of British intelligence. The statement from RIRA callously describing the pizza deliverers are 'servicing' the occupying British army sounds deliberately written so as to provoke ridicule and to descredit 'dissident' republicans. But then I may be giving British intelligence too much credit and the RIRA too little...
Of course, the emergence of Óglaigh na hÉireann, allied with the call from Hugh Orde to the deployment of undercover British army operatives and 'claims' from the RIRA, may merely point to some wider, sophisticated, dirty tricks operation on the part of PSNI special branch or MI5: a sort of corralling/managing of dissident activity (even the 'allowing' of deadly operations).
In any case, I believe we should all take, with a liberal pinch of salt, any and all explanations stemming from the PSNI and the standard media outlets for what is going on. It is all likely to be a lot more complicated than the vague shadows of events that we are allowed to glimpse in the media.